I recently gave an assignment about the Silk Road to my 9th grade world history students to tie our study of Ancient China and Ancient India together. Inspired by this resource by the Field Museum, I had my students assume the persona of a real or fictional character from the heyday of the Silk Road and then write a diary- based on research- that incorporated facts about the Silk Road while also telling a good story.
Here's one fine example by a student of mine. She was quite proud of it and she should be. We spent some time talking about how to make the story itself interesting. I think she pulled it off. StoryMap truly was the perfect tool for the assignment. Years ago, when I taught Art Spiegelman's Maus, I had the students trace Vladek's travels across Poland before and during the Holocaust. Again, StoryMap would have been perfect for such an assignment.